Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) and Occupational Health Workers
What is the Role of an Occupational Health Worker?
Occupational health is responsible for keeping the healthcare employees safe. Occupational health workers function to prevent workplace injuries and illness and advocate healthy workplace policies.
Occupational health is involved in:
- Promoting healthy workplace behaviours and environment.
- Providing health teaching to minimize workplace injuries and illness.
- Performing line listing during outbreaks.
- Participating in health education programs (e.g., influenza vaccination clinic).
- Administering healthcare setting required immunizations (e.g., Hepatitis B).
- Performing mask fit tests.
- Administering tuberculosis (TB) skin tests.
- Referring employees to the emergency department when required.
- Participating in workplace safety and insurance board (WSIB) cases for employees who become injured or fall ill due to work.
- Supporting employees returning to work after an injury.
- Addressing employee ergonomic concerns.
(Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety [CCOHS], 2021)
What is the Role of an Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Team Member?
Infection prevention and control, also known as IPAC, works to keep the hospital employees and clients safe. IPAC works to prevent and reduce the spread of transmission of infections between healthcare workers, clients and visitors. IPAC works to ensure that all best practice guidelines on infection prevention and control, such as hand hygiene and the proper use of personal protection equipment, are followed and adjusted in accordance with new public policies. IPAC professionals must be aware of infectious disease processes, routine practices, and additional precautions (IPAC, 2016).
IPAC is involved in:
- Performing risk assessments to identify risk of transmission of infections.
- Providing infection prevention and control practices education.
- Performing surveillance in healthcare setting.
- Updating infection prevention and control policies.
- Collaborating with healthcare workers, clients, care partners and visitors.
(Infection Prevention and Control Canada [IPAC], 2016).
Interprofessional Collaboration and Occupational Health and IPAC team members
The Occupational Health department and IPAC team members work closely together to ensure a safe work environment for healthcare providers and their clients. This includes a focus on promoting infection prevention and control practices within the larger interprofessional team to advocate for client and healthcare providers safety.
Some roles related to infection prevention and control practices that Occupational Health and IPAC are responsible for include:
- Collaborating with clients and their care partners, healthcare providers, managers, and external organizations (e.g., Public Health, WSIB).
- Communicating with new employees about workplace forms (e.g., vaccinations, mask fit test documents).
- Assessing injured employees (e.g., needlestick injury, strained back) and plan follow up care together.
- Discussing with employees about injuries and refer them for further testing (e.g., chest x-rays for a positive TB test, blood work for a needlestick injury).
- Collaborating with healthcare providers and management during workplace inspections (e.g., safety checks).
- Collaborating with healthcare workers, clients, care partners and visitors on infection prevention and control practices.
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). (2021, February 19). Basic OH&S Program Elements. https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/hsprograms/basic.html https://www.ccohs.ca/ccohs.html
Infection Prevention and Control Canada. (2016, October 7). Definition of an ICP. https://ipac-canada.org/definition-of-an-icp.php
- Healthcare Provider with a Needle in their Hands – Image 1 © Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels
- Interprofessional Team Communicating – Image 2 © Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels